apartment fantasy

Ever since Gerard started dedicating (ala Weird Al) Ween songs to my apartment obsession, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. My work environment has a lot to do with it; I’m surrounded by beautiful things and the facts attached to them, which makes them exciting and approchable at the same time. Color, design, and space has evolved over the past year- into something I actually think about, rather than something that seems inaccessible and only for rich people. Danielle and I are lucky that our landlord said we could a) repaint the place and b) take the $ out of our rent. I have to run the budget by her, but this is what we’ve decided on thus far.

Kitchen: June Day
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Living Rooms: Nuance (it didn’t scan well, but is not pure white)
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Bathroom and Den: Tango
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Accent wall in Living Room: I forget the color name
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My bedroom: I also forget the color name, it doesn’t look this pink in real life.
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I know it seems like a lot (maybe too many colors) but I am confident in how the neutrals will work with the brighter pops. I also like how certain color schemes will be echoed throuought the whole home. Craigslist is proving to be a valuable resource, and my friend Ashlie who goes to the Harrington Institute of Design is going to help me and Danielle with some space solutions, especially for our cabinet-less kitchen.

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party time, excellent

I thought about the title of this blog entry for a long time, since I was anticipating the summertime BBQs to come. This was probably as far back as November, when the last memory of summer warmth had left my body; and that was all the way back in 2007! I also refuse to believe that this foreshadowing tells anything more about my personality than the fact that I love catchy headlines. Anyways, as you all know, this has been the most unspringlike spring ever. I remember previous springs and I think about all the Italian ice and sweaty bikerides and get really happy. This spring has been more about sweatshirts and hot soup.

However, this weekend, the deities were smiling on us and let us have a brief taste of what’s to come. It was warm enough on Saturday for Natalie and Aaron to graciously host a bbq, which I unfortunately did not take any pictures at. However, I made some Mai Tais for the party and used a lot of lime juice:
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((imagine this x2 and you’ll get a good idea of what went into the concentrate))

For some reason I love taking pictures of fruit I have destroyed. Here are some dead and delicious limes:
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On Sunday, Gerard and I achieved something I have often thought about, but never attained. We attended 3 BBQs in one day AND had a great time at all of them. Amanda doesn’t ususally look so perplexed, but cameras are tough:
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There were lots of goodies at this BBQ, such as…

Fruit Salad
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Danielle’s secret ingredient Macaroni!
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Grilled Garlic Butter Shrimp
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Brats and Veggie Skewers
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Mojitos (please note the Beer and Ketchup in the background)
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Amanda’s red shoes
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And me… in need of a haircut… badly
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To cap off the night we went to a magical puppet show in Gil and Joe’s backyard.
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They told an Italo Calvino story and it was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

apt apt.

Man, I love a good use of abbreviation/ fun words. Well, we got the apartment in the sunny Ukrainian Village neighborhood of Chicago. I’ll be sad to leave Logan Square, but happy to live on a residential street. We won’t move in until July, but it is really nice to not have to worry about looking for an apartment during June, when it will hopefully (finally) be warm outside forever, or at least until November. The other advantage to getting our apartment stuff set up a month before we move is the fact that we’ll be able to paint/ organize prior to our move in date. That way, it will be move-in ready and we won’t have to unpack twice.
I did a rough sketch of the layout.
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I’m only seeing a few problems with the place at the moment.
1. Paint colors (the kitchen is navy blue, yuck)
2. Lack of storage in kitchen (there are no cabinets in the kitchen, but there is a butler’s pantry)
3. Lack of storage in bathroom (there are no cabinets in the bathroom…)
4. Light fixtures/ it is a little dark (this might change when we paint the place)

ps- I know that this is not about food or recipes, but it is really the only thing I want to imagine about/ plan right now…

domestic bliss

I’m going to keep my fingers crossed… but tonight Danielle and I are dropping off our security deposit and signing a lease for a new apartment that we’ll be moving into in July. It’s a little further south and a little further east than our seperate current digs, the price is right, it has a den, and a very workable (read: big and uncluttered with a butler’s pantry) kitchen. It is the first apartment I am really excited about moving into. I have enjoyed living in all of my environments, but am ready to be cat free. My job has given me lots of great ideas design and I can’t wait to apply them to my home. Talking about color selection/ space planning with Danielle has been really fun. We have similar tastes that are different enough to keep it interesting. All of this is great, but Danielle and I both have benefitted from living with people who have a lot of furniture. This means we have a couple of shelves, and our beds. This means we need a couch.

For my birthday my grandma decided it was time that I get some “adult furniture” but not until I move out of my current apartment. Well the time has come, and I luckily work at one of the best resources for home design in the city of Chicago. I got lucky on craigslist and found this couch from a really nice couple who I turn out to have some mutual friends with.
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The couch is great
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I can’t wait to sit on it
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I’m recovering it in this fabric, which is called Rocket in the color cocoa.
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And I’m making 2 big pillows for it in this Paul Smith fabric, that I have been obsessed with since August.
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Many happy meals will be made in this house, and eaten on this couch.

hits and misses

Generally, I try to post items that reflect my untrained and moderate culinary successes, or things other people make that I find tasty and pretty.

This is not one of those entries. Last night;s menu was meant to snub the current weather. It was summery! and light! and (supposed) to be delicious! It even looks pretty…
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But you know what? Until you taste it, you don’t know if it is good or not. I was in the mood for ceviche. I have made it before using this recipe. I have had great success with that recipe. It is tart and sweet and spicy and everything that a ceviche should be. Yesterday, when I was writing up my grocery list, I was in the mood for ceviche. I then made a fatal mistake. I remembered a recipe that I saw in the NYTimes a few weeks ago. It was about using vodka to cook fish. I thought it sounded interesting, and decided to try it myself.

The recipe calls for a lot of citrus vodka and scallops, avocado, cumin, and cilantro. I followed the directions, and the results were dismal. It looked so pretty and tasted like…. fishy vodka… fish flavored vodka… vodka flavored fish. Now, I’m not one to knock a gimlet or a bloody mary, but vodka isn’t something I really want to chew. Maybe my palette isn’t developed enough, or maybe I just don’t enjoy raw-fish orange-vodka stew. I’m sticking with my main man Mark Bittman, over at the Times. Whenever I stray, I seem to end up with something really gross.

In other news, the watermelon salad (1/2 watermelon diced, 1/2 jalepeno chopped, 1 teaspoon salt, chill for an hour) was delicious and is proving to be a perpetual summer favorite. The combination of hot, sweet, and cold, is refreshing without being boring ( a big problem I have with cucumbers, although I do like them)

Gerard also made some Salsa Verde!
We roasted 2 Serrano peppers:
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Used a pound of tomatillos and a clove of chopped garlic, cooked it down with some olive oil, salt and adobo.
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Blended it with 1/2 cup of cilantro and one more clove of garlic
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We let it cool, and then we enjoyed it. With chips, not ceviche. Then we had passionfruit sorbet. I have never like passionfruit until recently. I hate the scent in chemical products, but in real life, it is great to eat!

*As a side note, we are trying to salvage the rest of the ceviche by straining out the vodka and covering it with lime juice again. I will have to see how it looks after work.

confession

One time, in April, I went on vacation. Since then, I haven’t exactly been to the grocery store, in a real way. It is really cramping my style. Sure, I’ve picked up some anchovies and tomato sauce, but not any breakfast foods or ingredients for delicious treats. This has meant a lot of falafel, hotdogs, and pizza (and cheese curds). But here’s the thing… eating crappy food makes you feel crappy and lethargic. So tonight, after work, I am going grocery shopping. I’m thinking lots of fresh veggies and nothing fried. On the agenda for the week is ceviche, pizza, and soup to take to work for the week.

weeknight warrior

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My friend Natalie has been a big part of my life for over a decade. She’s also not really into birthday parties. However, I wasn’t going to let her quarter century anniversary pass without note. I know I have talked about it a lot, but I figured that the Violet Hour was nice enough for a special occasion and cool enough that she wouldn’t find it completely ridiculous.

This time we were sitting in a booth, which provided ample opportunity to snap some flash-free pictures, without looking like a total nerdo, or interrupting a party of people who don’t like to take pictures of things that they consume. To begin, I had a Daisy de Santiago (Flor de CaƱa, Lime, Yellow Chartreuse, Spring Bitters) Gerard had a Yellow Rose of Texas (which includes Tequila and Yellow Chartreuse) annd Natalie had a Spring Sidecar (Landy Cognac, Orange Curacao, Lemon, Pineapple, Spring Bitters)- which she didn’t find as tasty as the ones at the Matchbox.

For the second round, Natalie had a Dark and Stormy (a personal favorite)
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(Dark Rum, Ginger Beer, Ginger Syrup, Lime)
*I was excited to have a sip of this, seeing as I have been trying to perfect it at home. There is still something with more “bite” about the version at the VH. At home, it tastes sweeter. I think I need to add more ginger.

Gerard had a Hemingway Daiquiri
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(Rum, Maraschino Liquor, Lime, Simple syrup?)

I had a Miraflores
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(Pisco Italia, Grapefruit, Orange Blossom Honey Syrup, Miramar Bitters)
*My favorite part of which is the egg meringue

For the third and final round (it was a birthday celebration!) Natalie had “The Art of Choke”
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(Cynar, Appleton Rum, Lime, Green Chartreuse, Mint)
*Which I had when I came with Gemma, and enjoyed immensely. Artichoke Liquor is tasty!

Gerard had a Spring Sazerac
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(Old Overholdt Rye, Herbsainte, Rothman & Winter Apricot Liqueur, Peychaud’s Bitters)
*Which actually tastes like Apricots!

I had an El Diablo
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(Which includes Tequila, Lime, Ginger Beer, and Cassis)

It’s fun to look up all the ingredients online, but they (the internet gods) don’t always give the quantities, which are really important in cocktail constructing. I realize that I missed a great opportunity to have a professional Mai Tai, which will have to happen in a month or so, seeing as the Violet Hour is really only somewhere you can go when you are celebrating something or temporarily flush in cash.

P.S. I have found this website, of Death and Company in NYC (the Violet Hour’s sister bar) very helpful for home bartending. I visited Death and Company when I was in NYC during February and was equally impressed with it as the Violet Hour (actually, I felt that Death and Company felt more like a Chicago place with the wood paneling and that the Violet Hour feels more like a NY place with its sophistication)

P.P.S. I also think I have discovered the secret ingredient in the VH’s deviled eggs. I think they put drugs in them.

slacker

I apologize! I haven’t updated. I actually haven’t been cooking very much over the past week or so, much to my chagrin. Hence, I have no pictures or delicious recipes for sharing.
However, it hasn’t been too dismal… I have had the privilage of eating several good meals, most noticeably “Indiana Chicken” and potato salad at a bbq last night (I know! BBQ! It’s happening!) I’ve also been eating a lot of delicious veggie burgers, and, on Friday Sarah and I made some very successful anchovy pizzas and some kind of unsuccessful Mai-Tais. Anybody know where to get Orgeat Syrup? We didn’t really have all the ingredients, so it wasn’t totally our fault that it didn’t work out, well I guess it actually was- if we had planned accordingly. I just found this awesome website. What did we do before the internet?